Delay in reporting of deadly US destroyer collision raises questions

Delay in reporting of deadly US destroyer collision raises questions

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal in the Philippine Sea at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, while operating about 64 miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, according to U.S. 7th Fleet news releases.

The commander of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet says that search and rescue efforts are over for the seven sailors missing after a destroyer collided with a merchant ship in waters off Japan.

Navy divers found the bodies of missing sailors Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan, the Navy said.

The other five were identified as Dakota Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Virginia; Ngoc Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Connecticut; Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Maryland; and Gary Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

Mr Stackley promised to "fully investigate" the cause of the collision at about 2.20am on Saturday between the Fitzgerald and a Philippine-flagged container ship four times its size, as numerous crew slept.

The Japanese coast guard said it received an emergency call from the container ship, the ACX Crystal, reporting the collision around 2:20 a.m. (17:20 GMT Friday).

"Navy officials say they're notifying the families of the deceased and will officially release names of the dead sailors at a later date", John Matthews reports from Tokyo for our Newscast unit.

"We set up a USS Fitzgerald Emergency Family Assistance Center within hours, and disseminated the phone numbers to their hotlines through social media and Navy websites".

The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped in the collision as well. "Now that the ship is in Yokosuka, I ask that you help the families by maintaining their privacy as we continue the search for our shipmates".

The Navy saying the bodies of the 7 American sailors killed in the crash have been recovered. Bryce Benson, was, along with two other crew members, airlifted to a the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan.

"It was right near the pilot's house and there is a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline", said Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin. Other naval servicemen fought to keep the ship from sinking.

"It was impossible that the Aegis ship (Fitzgerald) was unaware" another vessel was approaching, Yamada said.

"A second medevac was performed for two Sailors with minor injuries". After interviewing Filipino crew members, the Coast Guard changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m.

The White House is remembering the seven US sailors who were killed in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan on Saturday.

The coastguard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal and is treating the collision as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional official.

"In due time, the US Navy will fully investigate the cause of this tragedy", Stackley said in a statement.

It is unclear whether there were any warning signs leading up to the collision, and authorities have not speculated on the cause of the crash.

Japanese coastguard investigators will be interviewing the Filipino crew of the Japanese-owned container ship, although the U.S. has primary jurisdiction in investigating accidents involving military.

Yamada, a professor at Tokai University, said the inspection and investigation will focus mainly on whether the two vessels were able to communicate when they found themselves on a collision course, and the degree of crowding in the area at the time.